Milestone Academy is dedicated to providing a broad, rich, deep and demanding curriculum at levels appropriate to the developmental understanding of our students. This has since 2014 been driven via our application across Milestone Academy of our Core Moral Purpose – the first commitment of which is to ‘Provide expertise to deliver a personalised curriculum for each pupil’s learning. The curriculum we now deliver, which wa s introduced in 2019, builds on this commitment and is coherently sequenced to meet all pupils’ needs, start points and aspirations for the future, whilst being ambitious for all. Milestone Academy’s curriculum is responsive to pupil’s individual changing needs, with four distinct curriculum pathways (Brook, Stream, River and Waterfall) that pupils may stay within or transition between during their time at school. Each curriculum pathway has core elements, which run, throughout the school in addition to elements, which are specific to a Phase within school. Communication is fundamental to learning and building relationships; this is central to the curriculum at Milestone Academy and is embedded within it throughout each school day.
Emotional structure and routine is important to our students and we seek to provide the appropriate level of ‘scaffolding’ to support individuals in their learning of knowledge, understanding and skills, providing the appropriate level of challenge and risk taking in order to develop resilience through, at times, coping with failure. Practical and active learning beyond the classroom is essential to all our students and a key aspect of our curriculum, developing the generalisation of skills learnt to other settings, including the local and wider community. Positive mental health, physical health, happiness and well-being are central to pupil’s development and progress. At Milestone, the curriculum supports this through opportunities to develop passions and interests, an understanding of how to stay healthy, make good choices, and developing a sense of self-worth, esteem and enjoyment of learning.
Our curriculum approach reflects our respect for each student as an individual, aiming to develop knowledge, understanding and independence through a transdisciplinary theme approached curriculum through the school (excluding Early Years and the Sixth Form). These transdisciplinary themes, which focus on areas that go across subject areas, are based on the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. Across these key stages, pupils will all focus on the same transdisciplinary theme over a module, around which learning will be planned. These are:
- Who we are
- Where we are in place and time
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organise ourselves
- Sharing the planet
Having all pupils’ learning planned around the same transdisciplinary theme supports engagement, enthusiasm and inclusion across the school with common topics for sharing and discussion leading to holistic learning experiences that integrate socio-emotional, physical and cognitive development. This ensures the curriculum is planned and sequenced to ensure skills and knowledge are taught regularly to develop understanding and consolidation in a structured way, ensuring that new learning is connected to existing knowledge. The total curriculum at Milestone Academy encompasses the taught curriculum, which includes all National Curriculum subjects, religious education and age and stage appropriate relationship and sex education for pupils working at a subject specific level. Alongside the taught curriculum runs the co-curriculum, which supports development of and learning within creativity, careers and the world of work, performing, sport and volunteering and membership.
The curriculum across Milestone Academy enables our pupils to develop into young people who are; independent, to the greatest degree possible, caring, both for themselves, others and the world around them, able to build positive relationships and to communicate functionally and effectively, be curious, able to play a meaningful role in society, informed, skilled, respectful and tolerant. The curriculum is developmental and personalised to ensure every pupil accesses the learning they need as an individual, at an ambitious level of challenge appropriate to them, supporting transitions to next steps within and beyond school. The curriculum celebrates differences within our diverse school community and enables young people to access learning appropriate to their aspirations for the future, leading to positive destinations for all. The curriculum will develop our pupils attributes in line with the International Baccalaureate learner profile which are; inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk takers, balanced and reflective.
Milestone Academy is one of 29 fellow Primary, Secondary and Special Academies that operate under as members of Leigh Academies Trust. As these 29 Academies have embarked on fully implementing both the Primary and Secondary IB programmes, we see our role as one being a pathfinder in relation to the IB operating in a special school, which currently does not occur anywhere. Thus, our intention during 2020-21 is to draw on LATs high level contacts with the IB and at the appropriate time invite the IB to visit Milestone so we can share with our adoption of core aspects and principles of their curriculum and learner profile.
At Milestone Academy, the majority of lessons and subjects are taught by the class teacher, this is especially so in the Primary Phases 1 and 2. In the Secondary Phases 3 and 4 pupils may be taught by specialist teachers for specific subjects. Alongside learning within specific subject areas of the National Curriculum, all pupils have targets and learning focused on achieving their individually planned outcomes within their Provision Plans, part of their Education, Health and Care Plan. Across all phases pupils with higher level of need such as those following the Brook or Stream pathways access learning through an Individualised Learning Plan which incorporates core subject areas including all strands of English and maths. Pupils follow the same topic theme as the pathways in their phase, but focus on the four main areas of learning; Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning, Personal and Social and Physical Development, in line with their individual needs. The topic is incorporated in a sensory, appropriate level to ensure all pupils are accessing their learning, whilst being included in the phase community by following the same topic. Learning is personalised and all pupil’s targets are broken down into small, realistic steps which are both stage and age appropriate, with a focus on developing functional skills across all subject areas.
Children within the Foundation Stage have access to a rich, broad and balanced curriculum where learning takes place through a mix of child initiated and adult led learning, both in the classroom and use of outside spaces and the local community. Learning is made pleasurable and rewarding, helping our children think and communicate about their learning. We are a total communication environment encapsulated by the fact that one of the few schools in the South East that holds the Balanced Programme award for SLCN Centre as one of Centres of Excellence. Thus the entire staff understand the power that particular modes of communication have such as signing, PECS and switch use which help to extend, refine and develop our pupils in the most positive and successful way. Parents and carers are encouraged to be partners in their children’s education and have opportunities to help their children learn at home, through very close links with the Academy. In Phases 1 and 2 lessons are taught with links to the Phase Topic based curriculum, based on the IB whole school transdisciplinary theme. Independence skills are taught through personal care, hand washing, carrying out dinner routines, making choices and showing preferences. Physical Education is taught throughout the phases through taught PE lessons, Aqualearn, Dance, Specialist led sports and gymnastics clubs and Rebound Therapy (where appropriate). In Phase 2 pupils also have access specialist coaching from external providers including Horse Riding, Swimming, Football and Gymnastics which may be site-specific. Pupils in Phase 1 and 2 may access Forest School, art, dance and music taught by specialist teachers.
In Phases 3 and 4 lessons are also taught with links to the Phase topic based curriculum, linked to the IB whole school transdisciplinary theme. It is recognised that some lessons need to be taught as ‘stand-alone’ where certain subject or coverage specific learning needs to take place, such as online safety, relationship and sex education or careers education. Where possible these subjects will follow the theme but if a need is recognised that a specific topic needs to be taught, this will be done so to meet pupil’s changing needs. In Phases 3 and 4 specific subjects will be taught by specialist teachers for PE, vocational subjects, science, music, art, dance and Scouts. Pupils may access specialist swimming lessons and will begin to learn how to safely access the community, using public transport as appropriate, and will learn independence skills such as shopping and food technology.
Pupils in the Sixth Form will begin an Individual Study Programme tailored to their needs and aspirations with an emphasis on developing functional English, maths, Computing, Work Experience Related Learning Skills and Personal and Social Development. All student outcomes are linked to their planned transitions into adulthood and are transdisciplinary to ensure a holistic approach to their learning and skills gained, whether their intended destination be work, further education or independent living.
Subject Leaders at Milestone Academy lead curriculum development and review alongside Phase middle and senior leaders. English and maths leaders support two phases (Phase 1 & 2 or 3 & 4) whilst other leaders have whole school responsibility. Subject and phase middle leaders support teachers through having expert knowledge of their subject, plan interventions as required and lead training, in whatever form that is required, including specific pedagogical approaches, ensuring any gaps in teacher’s knowledge are addressed where needed. Subject Leaders themselves have support from external partners, including from LAT Directors of Improvement, Ksent support or specialist courses.
At Milestone Academy we understand that all pupils learn differently and at different rates. Consistent and regular exposure to new learning knowledge and therefore skills, which are viewed as strings of knowledge, through a sequenced curriculum is a priority to ensure key concepts are learnt, transferred to the long term memory from the short term memory then built on when ready. This leads to teaching possibly looking different in every class in school to ensure it is responsive to pupil’s needs and individualised as required. Teachers use knowledge of prior learning and assessment against learning objectives in each lesson to check pupils’ understanding, ensuring any misconceptions and errors are corrected. Assessment may be repeated against a learning objective until it is achieved, in such cases the teaching approach may be changed to support the development of understanding in a different way if required. This summative assessment leads to formative assessment three times a year for English, maths, Personal, Social and Physical development and personalised provision plan outcomes for each pupil and less frequently for PE and science.
At Milestone Academy the whole day, from the moment the pupils enter school to the moment they leave for the day is an opportunity for learning, this may include during times such as break times, during personal care and during physical or medical procedures. In addition, homework is encouraged, this may be different for each pupil and may involve encouraging families to offer experiences similar to those being learnt in school, sharing of books to develop a love of reading in the wider sense to learning key words.
NB: As of September 2020, due to Government guidelines regarding Covid, some learning environments may not be available and timetables may need to be amended so support ‘bubbles’. As Government guidance changes this will be amended on an ongoing basis.
Pupils at Milestone Academy have excellent outcomes from their phase starting points across all areas of the curriculum.
We have over the past 5 years assiduously tracked our pupils’ development in English and Maths. In turn since 2016 we applied the same rigorous tracking principles to the pace of pupils’ progress through 7 key areas of Personal Social and Physical Development and have since followed the same path with tracking the delivery of each individual pupils EHCP targets. In triangulating this view of each pupil we can monitor the impact of the curriculum on each pupil and when necessary make the necessary adjustments to enable the pupils get back on track.
Personal, Social and Physical progress is considered to be as important for our pupils, ensuring the development of the whole pupil through the total curriculum. Personalised targets ensure that what is important for each pupil to learn and succeed in as an individual is carefully considered to ensure the best possible outcomes for each pupil, taking into account the skills and knowledge appropriate to their planned future learning and employment aspirations and personal interests.
Pupils show high levels of interest and engagement in all areas of the curriculum due to lessons being interactive and at the appropriate level of challenge for all. Pupils develop problem solving skills through opportunities to apply mathematical concepts, use comprehension skills and skills for independence, achieving well in these areas with respect to starting points. All 6th form pupils undertake and are successful in completing externally accredited qualifications supporting development of vocational and living skills. Some pupils take exams including Entry Levels 1-3 and Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills in English, maths and ICT.
As the pupil progress through Milestone Academy (with many spending up to 15 years with us) we can evidence how the impact of our work enables pupils to move through their initial levels of dependency/interdependency/independency and indeed some of our pupils manage to cross the borders between these three broad starting points.